tv The Situation Room CNN August 20, 2012 1:00pm-4:00pm PDT
did. >> she seemed like a pretty tough and very funny lay zi. she just passed away at age 95. joan rivers, thank you so much for picking up the phone and talking with me about your friend. i really appreciate it. i appreciate you tuning in. now to wolf blitzer. "the situation room" begins right now. brooke, thanks very much. happening now, an embarrassing double blow for the gop. the party forced to do major damage control after a key set of candidates' stunning remarks about so-called legitimate rape. and shocking revelations that a republican congressman had to be reprimanded in israel for taking a late night dip in one of the holiest bodies of waters in the world. plus, president obama makes a surprise appearance in the white house briefing room. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
up first, a major campaign flood which could have serious ripple effects for republicans. not only in their battle for congress, but also the white house. it's all because of shocking comments made by a key gop senate candidate, congressman todd akin. in an interviewac, akin used th term legitimate hap. he's in man chachester right no. the damage is very, very real. what's the late snes. >> >> todd akin said he is not
getting out of the race for the u.s. senate in missouri despite the fact that the man at the top of the republican party, mitt romney has done everything today, but say he should drop out of the race for now. this is a major distraction for the republican ticket. >> what about in in the case of rape? should it be legal or not? >> well, you know, people always want to try to make that as one of those things. >> reporter: in an interview with a st. louis tv station, representative akin made an explosive claim. >> it seems to me, first of all, from what i understand from doctors, that's really rare. if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. >> not only did his democratic opponent pounce -- >> this is not somebody we want speaking for us and our values on the floor of the united states senate -- >> so did republicans. mts senator scott brown said akin's statement was so far out
of bound that he should resign his nomination. mitt romney took time out from campaigning in new hampshire to denounce his comments as well, saying they were insulting, inexcusable and frankly wrong. but the gop contender is not calling on akin to drop out. democrats are using the controversy to put romney's running mate, paul ryan on the defensive. dnc chairman debbie wasserman schultz said he supported a claim of forcible rape. the word forcible was later dropped. but listen to how akin explained his comments on mike huckabee's radio show. >> yeah, i was talking about forcible rape, and it was absolutely the wrong word. and the good people of missouri nominated me, and i'm not a quitter. my belief is we're going to take this thing forward.
and by the grace of god, we're going to win the race. >> the romney campaign trust the gop contender would allow for abortion, drawing a distinction from ryan's personal views. he would only support an exception when the mother's life is on the line. advisers say it's paul ryan's comments that count. over the weekend the campaign allowed a reporter to observe the couple at a mormon service in new hampshire. and are ryan joining romney on the trail, this was supposed to be a week to go on offense. >> what are you going to do to combat the lies the leftists are telling about you? >> yeah, it seems the first victim of the obama campaign is the truth. >> now, in an interview this afternoon with wmur here in
manchester, mitt romney called on akin to do what he described as best for the country. but akin said he's not dropping out of the race. he has until tomorrow to voluntarily get his name off the ballot. if he misses the deadline, he'll need a court order to do it. >> it looks like the top leadership, without directly saying he must resign, the republican top leadership in the senate, including mitch mbl konl, the senate republican leader, they're all but throwing akin under the bus. you're saying the same thing from the romney/ryan campaign. >> that's right. i topped to a top romney adviser. he said the decision is up to todd akin. it's not going to be something that comes from the romney campaign. but they are nudging, they are urging for todd akin to get out
of the race. they're just not doing it publicly and part of the reason why is he could refuse to do so. it would not look good for republican leaders like mitt romney. >> yeah, they're really pressuring him to see the handwriting on the wall and leave the contest. although, he insists he's just begun to fight. jim acosta on the road with romney and ryan. meanwhile, president obama isn't missing his chance to pounce, using a surprise appearance in the briefing room not only to slam his comments but launch a fresh round of attacks against the arch rival, mitt romney. let's go to our white house correspondent brianna keilar. >> president obama is trying to make this abortion debate relevant. no doubt he's targeting the female vote. he's doing much better with women than mitt romney is. but he has lost grown with them,
especially in the key states. and this issue could help him shore up the female vote. >> rape is rape. and the idea we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we're talking about doesn't make since to the american people. and certainly doesn't make sense to me. >> and with that president obama effectively elevated the comments of a little known missouri congressman todd akin and used it to cast the republican party as trying to butt into women's personal health decisions. >> although these particular comments have led them to distance themselves. we should be making decisions on blaf of women or qualifying forcible rape versus nonforcible
rape. i think those are broader issues, and that is a significant difference and approach treen between me and the other party. >> the president was also asked to comment on the tone of the election. >> a short time after that my wife became ill. >> an ad that links mitt romney to the death of a steel worker's wife. >> i don't think governor romney is responsible for the death of the woman portrayed in the ad. >> this is a group president obama personally endorsed to raise money for his re-election. but the president said he did not approve the act and slammed the romney campaign for another spot. >> now in contrast, you have governor romney creating as a centerpiece of his campaign this notion that we're taking the work requirement out of welfare.
which every single person here who has looked at says is false. >> as the obama campaign continues to call on romney to release more tax returns, the president said the criticism is fair game. >> that's a precedent that was set decades ago. including by governor romney's father. that is what the american people would rightly expect is a sense that particularly when we're going to be having a huge debate about how we reform our tax code and how we pay for the government that we need, i think people wan to know that, you know, everybody has been playing by the same rules, including people seeking the highest office in the land. >> and wolf, president obama said it's important that voters know everybody is playing by the same rules because of the looming tax reform debate that's ahead. zble i know he was under a lot of growing pressure from
journalists out there, brianna, toen finally answer reporters' questions in the white house and elsewhere. white house correspondents. but they picked a fretty good date for the president going out with the republicans, seemingly in such trouble under this missouri congressman's words. >> they did. he really capitalized on it. there had been pressure for, i would say, several days if not more so. the last time we heard from president obama was at the g-20 in mexico in june. a lot of the questions had to do with foreign policy. not many about the economy. and certainly we haven't been able to ask him a lot of questions about the economy since poorer job numbers came in. president good day for president obama to come out. >> always good to see 20 minutes of q&a. >> we want more. >> we always want more. thanks very much for that. let's talk about all of this with mark preston. he's already in tampa near the
sight of the competition. you're in close touch, mark, with republican high level sources in tampa and elsewhere. what are you hearing about the whole akin uproar? >> well, wolf, they're extremely frustrated and extremely angry. we're a week out before republicans come here to nominate him hz a nominee and candidate. this is such bad timing for him. i talked to one committee member from a swing state who was just beside himself. this has created a situation now where the national conversation is turning back to this faux republican war on women, which is something that republicans don't want to deal with. it also comes at a time when the romney campaign feels they have turned the corner on the issue of medicare and ryan has done a good job of beating it back. so it's been nothing but a distraction. certainly for the rom knee campaign and taking back the
senate. the republicans are just besides themselves. >> it looks like he's under enormous pressure to see the handwriting on the wall and drop out of this. in two separate radio interviews he says he's fighting and fighting and fighting. what do you since? is he going to drop out tomorrow. >> well, wolf, it's a critical time. todd akin would have to leave the senate race by 5:00. if he doesn't, in order for him to get off the ballot, it will have to go to court. and republicans are concerned that if that were the case, that democrats would then challenge his removal fm the ballot and that would put that race in jeopardy. in addition to this as we sit in tampa and they're looking ahead the romney campaign all day has been in contact with the
national senatorial committee. they're trying to ease him out of the race without going public. we saw very strong words from governor romney today. we have heard that from key republicans in the party. scott brown being one. ron johnson being the other. >> sort of reminds me. a year or so ago when then republican congressman chris lee of western new york, he sent out a picture of himself shirtless on craigslist to some woman. i know john boehner called him in and said, you're out. it's over for you and in a few hours chris lee decided he was no longer a u.s. congressman. it sounds to me like the pressure is senator as far as akin is concerned. >> it comes down to numbers and simple arithmetic. if you talk to republican
strategists, they feel they need to win if the republicans are going to take back the senate. they thought they had that in todd akin if they were just able to coast into november. claire mccakascaskill was down e polls. if todd akin stays in the race, the race could be lost and it could cause republicans to not have the ability to take back control of the senate. >> i'm sure the senator, the incouple want is hoping he stays in the race. that's not going to be a very competitive race if he does. thanks very much for that. mark preston in tampa. we'll be heading to tampa ourselves this weekend. meanwhile, skinny dipping in the holy sea of galilea. just ahead, shocking revelations about what happened when 30
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bodies of water in the world. dana bash has the latest details. when i first heard this story, i said to mooiyself, you can't ma this stuff up. >> you can't. and the house republican leadership have been sitting on this embarrassing story for more than a year. the fbi investigated to see if any congressman broke a law. but it fuels the frustration with congress and has made a nightmare day for republicans even worse. it was the end of a hot august day last year in israel and a long dinner with plenty of alcohol when some 20 gop congressmen and a few aides jumped sjump ed into the sea of galilee. he was there for dinner, but not the swim. >> there's no question there was a sense of light heartedness, and there were those drinking alcohol. >> the episode, first reported by politico, turned from slightly weird to completely inroept when freshman gop
congressman kevin yoder decided to take his clothes off and swim naked. >> a year ago my wife, brooke, and i joined colleagues for dinner at sea of galilee in isra israel. after dinneri followed some members of congress in a spontaneous and very brief dive into the sea and regrettably i jumped into the water without a swim suit. it is my greatest honor to represent the people of kansas in congress and for any embarrassment i have caused, i apologize. the morning after eric cantor held an emergency meeting with the 30 lawmakers on the visit and scolded them. >> a remember a high level of announce. >> the trip, organized and paid for by apac had turned into a potential public relations disaster. house republican leaders were bracing for it to go public and
debating damage control. not only because of the perception of debauchery in the holy land but because of the timing. it was soon after a disastrous debt ceiling debate. an the same day the dow plunged 500 points. the fact that it came out a year later may lessen the embarrassment for yoder, but maybe not for congressman ben quayle. he was a swimmer and in a gop faceoff with congressman schweikert. >> let's face it. when you tie alcohol and some of the personal history there, you start to get squeamish of whey may happen. >> we just got a response from congressman quayle's campaign that said at no time was he aware of or witnessed misconduct. he retired after he swam. he also went after the congressman in being
opportunistic. congressman quayle said he swam for spiritual reasons. i heard that from several other republican sources. one held hands with his 21-year-old daughter and jumped in the water. another did so with the wife because of the fact that this is where christians believe he jumped on water. because this has become a political prb, a spiritual experience has changed dramatically. >> a bunch of them jumped in with the underpants on. whatever. yoder is the only one who went in totally naked, is that right? >> that's my unrstanding. most of them were in the water when congressman yoder jumped in naked. somebody screamed, oh my gosh, he doesn't have his clothes on. the swimming quickly came to an end. you may wander what the fallout will be for congressman yoder. he's from kansas. he's past the point of a primary and he's running unopposed.
at dh point there's not a lot of political pressure for him to step downside from the outside. >> they were shocked themselves. there was so many people there. not only members of congress. not only the aides, people around. people with the group apac. so they were definitely shocked. what a huge embarrassment. we'll see the fallout from this. i suspect there's going to be more. a check of the day's other top stories is up next. how far will the political firestorm from comments about rape and abortion from a senate candidate extend? we'll talk about that in today's tragedy session. and president obama explains why his campaign's focus on mitt romney's tax releases isn't, quote, personal. ♪
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only at one place: one of our 400 sleep number stores. lisa sylvester is monitoring other top stories in "the situation room" right now. what's going on down there? >> former secretary of state condoleezza rice and a south carolina businesswoman will become the first of two women to join the exclusive augusta national golf club. it's the site of the prestigious masters tournament and has been widely criticized for the all male membership policy. aerial spraying is continuing as a texas judge declared a state of emergency over an outbreak of west nile virus. the disease has killed at least nine people in the area.
nation weed, at least 26 people have died, and a 62-year-old woman is reportedly making good progress at her attempt to swim from cuba to key west, florida. diana has reportedly covered more than a third of the 103 mile total distance and has been in the water since saturday afternoon. the trip is expected to take 60 hours and she's had to contend with everything from jelly fish stings to a lightning storm. she tried this a couple of times. hopefully this year she'll reach her goal. >> that's amazing. >> and 62 years old. that's something else. hats off to her. >> thanks. we'll stay on top of this story as well. also, comments for a republican senator candidate ripples through the party and the presidential campaign. we'll talk about the fallout up
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let's talk about the senate race in missouri. here's what the congressman akin originally said that got him into trouble. >> it seems to me, first of all, from what i understand from doctors, that's really rare. if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. but let's assume maybe that didn't work or something, there should be some punishment, but the punishment aurgt to be on the rapist and not attacking the child. >> today he was on the radio doing damage control and he said this. >> i care deeply for the victims of those people who have been raped. they're equally vulnerable. a rape is equally tragic. i made that statement in error. rape is never legitimate. it's an evil act committed by violent predators. i used the wrong words the wrong way. what i said was ill conceived
and wrong and for that i apologize. >> is that enough to save him, or is he out? >> if he's out by 5:00 p.m. tomorrow it becomes easy for the republicans to replace him. after that it's a legal challenge. i think it was a dumb statement, poorly chosen b words. there are a lot of pro-lifers who believe there shouldn't be a rape exception. i tend to disagree myself on that particular exception. but missouri is so important to the republicans. you have the national senate republicans saying they don't want to the fund the race. he doesn't want to be the guy that they point to and say because of you they lost the senate. >> he says the female bodies has ways to shut that whole thing down. if a woman is raped, what is he talked about? >> i don't know. i really don't know. i know there are pro-lifeer who is believe and some doctors who say a woman, when she's raped,
responds differently than if it's willing. that's over my head and out of my league. he shouldn't have gone there. i can't explain it. and he doesn't explain it very well. >> i think with all the interviews that mitt romney gave and mcmcconnell and john kor anyone, who is in charge of the senate committee to elect republicans. it's clear to me they're throwing him under the bus. >> todd akin may not realize he's looking at the undercarriage o f a bus, but that's where he is right now. >> you tweeted this last night. todd akin said something dumb. claire mccaskill voted for obama care. i'll take a dum statement over a destructive vote. explain to viewers what you're thinking then. >> my views haven't evolved. i think he made a dumb statement. dumb statements are salvageable.
i don't think that he can survive this because you have an entire peafrt throwing him under the bus. the ads that would have come out, look, he said something done and apologized. much different than ron johnson saying get out. the nrc says we're not spending money. i don't think after surviving 24 hours the way it is that voters of missouri would choose to pick him. >> you're saying what he did was dumb. butting for obama care, like claire mccaskill would be dumber. >> i absolutely think so. i don't think he can get through the noise now, to be able to make the case. >> i suspect you're probably right. let's bring in donna brazile, a democratic political strategist. what do you think about this? >> first of all, i found the congressman's statements reprehensible, and i think any woman, any decent human being would do the right thing and
apologize. it's up to the republican party of missouri to force him to step aside or the congressman himself. but i don't think it has anything to do with claire mccaskill. representative akin has spoken out against abortion in cases of rape and incest. this is about a policy that the majority of americans and especially women find troubling. this is a policy decision that he has always advocated. he wants to redefine forceful rape. and paul reign, the new republican presidential nominee has also held such positions. so this is a policy discussion that we're having. and if the republicans force him to resign, so be it. >> in the past he has exposed the rape exception to justify
abortion rights. now he makes it clear that mitt romney is the number one guy out there and there should be an exemption for rape and paul ryan goes along with mitt romney. is that not good enough, donna. >> he's flip-flopping every day because mitt romney has flipped on the issues. and so you have republicans flip-flopping all day long. we'll see tomorrow when they come out with the platform. and eric might know what the platform says but they've had the most extreme positions. and they are opposed to the extreme views and extreme decisions. >> i would be shocked, and eric, you know more about this than i do, if the republican party platform -- on abortion -- didn't mirror precisely mitt romney's decision. >> i think it will. it's been the party platform since 1980. it's one thing to say the
republicans have an extreme position. the majority of americans are pro-life. frankly it hasn't changed since 1980. my wife is to this the right of me on abortion. i'm very pro life. my wife is more pro life than me. >> it's about reproductive health services and making sure women have the full lang of all reproductive health services. of course, abortion is also part of the reproductive services that women sometimes choose if that might be the case, and in the case of their own health care needs. >> the only exemption that mitt romney supports is the life of the mother. we're going to have more on this. everyone standby. president obama is holding mitt romney's feet to the fire when it comes to releasing more of his tax returns as well. >> and this is not an entitlement, being president of the united states. this is a privilege. we have to put ourselves before the american people to that make our case. [ male announcer ] let's say you need to take care of legal matters.
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>> president obama didn't hold back in the white house briefing room today, holding mitt romney's feet to the fire on a number of key issues, including his taxes. >> when it comes to releasing taxes, that's a precedent that was set decades ago. including by governor romney's father. and for us to say that it makes sense to release your tax
returns, as i did, as john mccain did, as bill clinton did, as the two president bushes did, i don't think is out of bounds. i think that is what the american people would rightly expect is a sense that particularly when we're going to be having a huge debate about how we reform our tax code and how we pay for the government that we need. people want to know that everybody has been playing by the same rules, including people who are seeking the highest office in the land. this is not an entitlement of being president of the united states, this is a tragedy. pref to put ourselves before the american people to make our case. in no way have we suggested the latter. but the first disclosure the one
year tax returns indicate that had he used swiss bank accounts, for example. well, it may be perfectly legal, but i suspect if you ask the average american do you have one, and is that how you manage your tax obligations, they would say no. they would find that relevant information. particularly going into a time when we know we have to make tough choices. so the idea that this is acceptable. that there should be a rational or information for doing more than the bare minimum has it back words. the assumption should be you do what preefs presidential candidates dating back for decades.
and governor romney's own dad says the reason i put out 10 or 12 years is because any single year might not tell you the whole story. and everybody has followed the custom ever since. the american people assume that in you want to be the president of the united states, that your life is an open book, when it comes to things like your finances. i'm not asking to disclose every detail of his medical records, although, we normally do that as well. you know. i mean, this is sort n't overly personal. this is pretty standard stuff. i don't think yooer being mean
asking you to do what every other presidential candidate has done. >> so will the issue go away? we'll talk about that. we'll get reaction to the president's comments and part two of the strategy session with donna brazile and eric ericson coming up next. later, we're learning the comedian rosie o'donnell is lucky to be alive after a heart attack.
returns. i suspect that's not going to happen. but the president sees this obviously as a good source of pressure, if you will, on the gop. >> why not, wolf? like the president said earlier today? most presidential candidates do this. they don't question the american people. i agree with jim macena. five years should be enough. mitt romney has been running for president for five years he should release five years and earn the trust of the american people. >> no shortage of republicans who want romney to release the tax returns as well. he made it clear he's not doing more than two years. >> yeah, it surprises me, but this is what he wants to do. whatever is in there, no matter how legitimately the tax code is applied to, no matter how much he's paid in taxes. they'll find something in there to distract him from the economy, the medicare issues, distract him from the issues the democrats don't don't want to talk about. >> let's talk about the sea of galilee.
a congressional delegation is in israel. they go into the sea of galilee. one republican member from kansas actually goes in naked to the sea of galilee. you tweeted this, eric. and you're outspoken on this. were these democrats, we would be out to get them. we should not surrender our intellectual honesty because they are republicans. >> i think they need to go away for a while. put the head under a paperbag or just lee. if they were democrats you would have every republican in washington calling for their heads. i'm not willing to sacrifice intellectual honesty and say this isn't a story. these are american legislators, going into the sea of galilee. it's an embarrassment as an american that theet guys were well behaved. hat off. you have 30 guys that can keep a secret for a year. >> eric cantor reprimanded them
the next morning. >> and they should have been. and they should have come clean then. it's embarrassing behavior. i'm not willing to give my party a pass on it. >> if these were all republicans behaving inappropriately in israel. but you all know democrats behave inappropriately from time to time, including some former members of congress, like anthony weiner. >> there's a reason the congress approval rating is as low as it is right now. but the truth of the matter, wolf and i've been to israel on numerous organizations. the education foundation for apac. in fact, i'm going to do an apac event tonight in atlanta. it's a spiritual site, a holy site. the fact they were out there drinking and partying and skinny dipping, it's embarrassing but it's outrageous as well. >> you believe if these had been democratic lawmakers, donna,
they would still be in congress? >> i'm sure miss pelosi and mr. hardy would have rebuked them as well like mr. cantor and mr. mccarthy did. i seriously think members of congress need to take a chill pill and look at the approval ratings and start representing the american people better. es pshlly when they travel overseas. >> this is why so many people in the united states, only 10% have a favorable image of congress right now. i keep asking myself, who are the 10%? >> the democrats would have done what the republicans have done. and both parties will rally around their side and keep them in congress, but we could use a little more maturity with $16 trillion in national debt. >> guys, thanks very, very much. a train collapse in toronto leaves passengers stranded inside. we'll let you know what's going on. and in maryland, a bus careens out of control and crashes into a house. we'll update you on that story
as well. and we'll also tell you very sad news coming out of los angeles, where a legend of comedy has died. [ obama ] i'm barack obama and i approve this message. [ male announcer ] you work hard. stretch every penny. but chances are you pay a higher tax rate than him... mitt romney made twenty million dollars in two thousand ten
a construction crane collapses to a busy toronto street. lisa sylvester is monitoring that. >> in toronto the collapse of a global construction crane briefly stranded more than 20 passengers on a nearby bus, draped with electricals. police say the passengers have now all exited the bus safely. the crane operator was also trapped in his cabin for a short while. and according to local news reports he's been taken now to a
nearby hospital. and another financial record for apple. the tech giant has become the most valuable publicly owned company in history, as the companies's stock hit new highs in trading, the overall capitalization of apple reached $623 billion, and that e clips the previous record set by mike soft at the height of the dot-com bubble. and according to local news reports, as many as nine people were injured when a public bus went out of control in a neighborhood, veering across two separate lawns before crashing into a house. fortunately none of the injuries are life threatening. police are now investigating what caused this crash. and we're sad to report comedian phyllis diller died this morning at her home in los angeles. she was a staple of nightclub and televisions in the 1950s and 60s. often appearing beside bob hope on tv specials.
she was known for her sharp tongue and trademark cackling laugh. her long time manager said she died peacefully in her sleep. phyllis diller was 95 years old. and they say her son perry found her this morning and she had a smile on her face. >> our deepest condolences. and you're in "the situation room". happening now. betrayal in the middle east. the u.s. spent billions of dollars to free iraq from a dictator. why are they playing a key role in busting the sanctions on iran? a republican congressman and a contender for a vulnerable senate seat sparking outrage. the republicans scramble to distance themselves. the democrats are in no hurry to see him drop out of the race. and a major hollywood director leaps to his death from
a california bridge. new questions on what may have led tony scott to second degrui. we want to welcome our viewers in the nation and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." the united states paid a very painful price in blood and spent vast amounts of money to break the dictators home on iraq. now, just months after the last u.s. troops left iraq, baghdad's new government is apparent lly betraying the sacrifice by helping iran break the political sanctions. it's pretty shocking to a lot of us who cover the war in iraq and know the sacrifices that
american men and women had to endure to achieve the goal. >> wolf, that is true. but iran is one of iraq's largest trading partners. a lot of goods go back and forth, and there's smuggling. so experts are telling cnn the u.s. shouldn't be surprised if there's some financial transactions, too. >> iran's economy is supposed to be in a strangle hold from international sanctions. the u.s. officials say tehran still has access to the international banking system, thanks to iraq, the same country the u.s. paid in lives and treasure to free from saddam hussein. $722.5 billion for the war, and now training ira troops. almost $60.5 billion for reconstruction. another billion dollars for the biggest u.s. embassy in the world. almost 4,500 killed.
some of it is gal. but the u.s. wants the government and prime minister nuri al-maliki to stop the sanctions busting. the treasury dreept's david cohen tells cnn we are actively pursuing efforts to prevent iran from invading u.s. or financial interaction sanctions in iraq or anywhere else. the state department says the u.s. has been clear and forthright with iraq in discussing iran's attempts to circumvent sanctions. and the iraqi officials have cooperated. >> when he found issues of compliance on the iraqi side with our sanctions regime as we did in the case of the private bank. we've raised them with iraqi officials and tried to work through the issues so that we can close the loopholes. one expert on iraq says the u.s. shouldn't be surprise. iraq isn't about to fight with iran just because the u.s. is.
>> the irk key government has been stiffing us for so long on such a wide range of issues that to be surprised that banking and currency restrictions are among them is to this be naive both about the nature of u.s.-iraqi relationship. >> so, wolf, what he's saying is in other words getting rid of saddam hussein hussein didn't automatically mean getting an iraqi government that sees everything the same as the united states sees it. >> certainly it's disappointing to u.s. officials that the government of nuri al maliki in baghdad seems to be so cozying up to the regime in tehran of ahmadinejad. we're going to discuss this in a moment. jill dougherty, thanks very, very much. campaigning in new hampshire today, the republican running mates unleashed a sharp result on the obama administration's policy towards iran. listen to this. >> perhaps the greatest threat
in the world today is an iran with nuclear capabilities. nuclear weapons capabilities. this is a threat to israel, and it's a threat to our natiol security. and we need to be firm in our resolve in preventing iran from getting nuclear weapons capability in standing up for our allies in the region so we don't have a nuclear arms race in the middle east. >> i just -- i agree. let me add a couple of things. when the president of the united states speaks, he speaks to really four audienc. one, of course is the american people. that's the group that's important to him politically. to have their support, to help win the support for the coming elections and so forth. number two, when he speaks, he's speaking to our allies around
the world. if they sense any weakness on the part of the american president and his commitment to our friends, they begin looking around to see where they can get support elsewhere. he's also speaking in a way heard by the foes. and if the president speaks in a way again that shows weakness, that emboldens them. they decide to take action which furthers their interest and causes the retreat of our interests and the retreat of the interest of our friends around the world. and finally he's heard loud and clear by the servicemen and women in the united states. and if i'm president of the united states, i will never say anything to ern support in the first group, the american public, that in any way harms our interest with regards to our friends and allies, that emboldens our enemies or detracts for the commitment of the men and women in uniform.
and like paul, i would say you have to treat your friends like friends. and if you have a disagreement, like you do now and then in your family, you hash that out in private. the president throwing benjamin netanyahu under the bus was totally unacceptable in my view. and i gave a speech, i don't know, five years ago now in tell a vooef and laid out seven things that need to be done in order to keep iran from pursuing this. and it's taken forever for any of those to get done. we're now just getting to tough sanctions in iran. should have been done ages ago. and what ahmadinejad said this past week about israel, i won't repeat it, the awful, offensive,
obnoxious things he said about israel should lead to this him being indicted, his people being treated like the pariah they ar his diplomats, and we should always make sure they recognize to the united states of america, iran becoming nuclear is unacceptable, and we have options on the table, but they're not just on the table. they're in our hand. we will not all bend and become a nuclear threat to us or our friends. >> let's bring in a long time observer of the middle east, the "washington post" columnist david ignacion. he says the u.s. will not allow iran to have a nuclear weapon. the obama administration says the same thing. other than the rhetoric of throwing benjamin netanyahu you should tunder the bus, do you se a difference from the romney position and the obama position? >> i think the positions on
paper are very close. the president in his speech to apac used language ha he that has not used before in saying the u.s. will prevent iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. the difference, i think, is the extent to which president obama's promises are believed in israel. and mitt romney, the republican likely nominee's ideas are believed and he is seen by netanyahu and others in israel is seen as being more serious in his commitment to go to war to stop iran. the positions on paper are the. >> we've seen all the reports in the israeli media that there could be a an israeli strike before the u.s. election on november 6th. you buy that or is that simply psychological pressure on the obama administration and others? >> the honest answer is nobody outside a tiny circle in israel really knows the answer. certainly we've been seeing a
warning of a possible israeli mill stair strike. that's more serious than i remember. we had the distribution of gas masks to israelis in the last few days. we had the israeli president saying he opposed the policy of prime minister netanyahu, the possibility that netanyahu might strike. so there are warning signs that this is serious, but again, we don't know in the end what israel's decision will be. >> let's get to what jill dougherty was reporting at the top of the hour, that nuri al-maliki is really warming up with ahmadinejad and helping ahmadinejad break the u.s.-imposed economic sanctions that are designed to stop iran from building a nuclear bomb. what's going on between nuri al-maliki and mahmoud ahmadinejad? >> what's going on is nuri al-maal al-maliki forrees in my
judgment, has been leaning to iran. and in the crunch, as usually cited with iran, the u.s. treasury has finally done something serious about it in sanctioning a big iraqi bank, which according to the treasury has been secretly evading iran and evading sanctions. but maliki's government has been leaning towards tehran. the mystery to me is why the obama administration has done so little about it until now. >> should the u.s. start imposing economic sanctions on nuri al maliki's government? >> we are now sanctioning an iraqi bank. that bank's ties are so close to the maliki government that transactions that were initiated after the sanctions were issued may end up causing problems for al maliki's government. so the u.s. moving.
i think we're waiting for a serious iraqi response but there's no question the iraqis are helping in this period when they're isolated. >> nuri al maliki seems much more interested in having an excellent relationship with the next door neighbor iran than an excellent relationship with the united states, which put them in power and got rid of saddam hussein. >> it's not surprising they should want good relations with their neighbors iran. iraq and iran fought a bloody war that killed too many, tens, hundreds of thousands of people. it's surprising that the u.s. has been with iran, the backer of this iraqi prime minister as he moved closer to the iranian positions. how strange. enemies on so many issues, that are backing the government. i think it's overdue. >> it's so embarrassing.
the u.s. spent a billion dollars building an embassy compound in baghdad which is quickly going to be temp empty. they want them out of there. >> the iranians don't want close ties between the u.s. and iraq. for american who is watched us spend a trillion dollars, all the lives lost, it's painful to see this. it's good to see the u.s. treasury speak out on the angsts busting behavior. >> good point. thanks for coming in. you're going to hear president obama lashing out after republican congressman's shocking comments about, quote, legitimate rape. and comedian rosie o'donnell announces she's had a heart attack. what she did that may have saved her life and her advice that might save yours. and the autopsy report is out on the young man who memphis police say shot himself in the head while handcuffed in a
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three people in critical condition after a shooting in a wal-mart parking lot. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other top stories in "the situation room." >> this all happened in cedar park, texas. police say several people left a nearby party and gathered to fight outside the wal-mart. an 18-year-old man opened fire. four were shot. one was treated and released. the others remain spitalized. if an airline's baggage fee has overtaken you by surprise, you may find comfort in the next story. the transportation department is fining orbitz $50,000 for failing to display baggage fees clearly and prominently. they ordered them to stop all violences of the expanded passenger protection rule. and if you drive a 1994 honda
accord, keep a close eye on it. for the fourth year in a row, it tops the national insurance crime bureau's list as the most stolen car in america. older cars are stolen more often now. smart keys and tracking systems make it harder to snatch newer models. every favorites are the 1994 nissan sentra and the 2006 ford pickup truck. so keep in mind. a lot of people drooi the cars. i know they're very popular models. >> we certainly will. rosie o'donnell says she's happy to be alive. the comedian revealed a health scare she had last week. she's hoping all women will learn from it. and curiosity rover blasts a martian rock. what scientists are learning from images that are now coming back.
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republicans who take a tough stand on various social issues are growing scrutiny on this day. and paul ryan is finding a split among fellow catholics. lisa sylvester taking a closer look a @ story for us. >> paul ryan is catholic. he opposeses abortion and same-sex marriage. you would think that the community is running strongly behind mitt romney's running mate, but that doesn't seem to be the case. the nuns on the bus traveled 2,700 mile this is summer. reeling against congressman paul ryan's budget proposal that would slash social programs and hurt the poor.
>> congressman ryan claiming the catholicism mantle really set our teeth on the edge. probably we wouldn't have been on the road if he hadn't done that. >> the bishops also went on record, opposing the ryan budget plan. but ryan argued in a speech that a tight fiscal policy isn't keeping with catholic teachings. he argued when government gets out of the way, local communitying and individuals fill the gap. >> i don't believe the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government. >> now that ryan has been named as mitt romney's running mate, there's a fresh round of outcry from catholics who oppose deep slashes in nutrition programs michael is an author and journalist. >> the church cares about the unbo, undocumented and unemployed. if you're an "un" in the society, the catholic church
cares about you especially. >> but the story is not so simple. while he may alienate some social justice catholics, he does appeal to the family values anti-abortion catholics. they took issue with president obama's health care requirement to offer birth control benefits to employees of religious institutions. and as the cnn poll shows in ryan's home state of wisconsin, 52% of catholics support mitt romney. 43% back president obama. some say it may all come down to the catholic vote. >> reporter: how important is the catholic swing voter? >> ohio, pennsylvania, florida. hugely large catholic population. catholics will decide the election. >> and ryan debate is highlighting a divide among american catholics. we like to talk about the catholic vote. but it's not a monolithic group. you have progressives. you can call them the joe biden catholics. then you have more conservative catholics lining up behind paul
ryan. and which group will have the largest turnout in november? >> it will be a critically important turnout among catholics in the state. and they don't necessarily agree on all of this? it's not a monolithic vote to be sure. thank you very much. todd akin of missouri is apologizing profusely for his stunning comment that legitimate rape rarely results in pregnancy. but the missouri republican has sparked fur eed fury among the l spectrum. >> the views expressed were offensive. rape is rape. and the yb we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we're talking about doesn't make since to the american people.
and it certainly doesn't make sense to me. so what i think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicia politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women. so although these particular comments have led governor romney and other republicans to distance themselves, i think the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions or qualifying forcible rape versus nonforcible rape, those are broader issues. and that's a significant difference in approach between me and the other party. but i don't think that they would agree with the senator from missouri, in terms of his statement, which was way out there. >> many republicans from the top of the ticket down also voice
their outrage, but todd akin may have hurt his party's chances to catch a vulnerable seat, mainly the one he's running for in missouri. this is pretty enormous. >> and it's pretty astounding. the pressure really appears to be mountding among republicans for congressman akin to drop out of the senate race. it was surprising just how quickly his fellow republicans piled on. so far akin is standing firm that he's sticking with it. fellow republicans couldn't run away fast enough from congressman todd akin's remarks. mitt romney called them insu insulting, inexcusable and frankly wrong. senator john cornyn condemned them as indefensible and suggested akin should carefully consider what is best for him, his family, the republican party, and a source tells cnn the gop campaign arms said they wouldn't give akin campaign
money if he staid in the race. so here's what started ate all. akin was asked about his opposition to abortion, even in the case of rape. >> first of all, from what i understand from doctors. that's really rare. if it's a legitimate rae, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing doing. >> akin did apologize here to radio host mike huckabee. >> i used the wrong words the wrong way. what i said was ill conceived and wrong. >> akin also said he wasn't going anywhere. >> i'm not a quitter. my belief is we're going to take this thing forward and by the grace of god, to win this race. >> but no surprise, democrats wasted no time jumping on the controversy. his opponent, senator claire mccaskill on mbz. >> i hope this is a gut check moment and they realize this is not somebody we want speaking for us and our values. >> akin won the primary just a
few weeks ago and in several recent polls he had a small lead over mccaskill, the incumbent democrat. many analysts viewed this among the top republican victories as they aim to retake the senate majority. >> this is the st republican opportunity for taking over a seat that an incumbent democrat was running for re-election. this was a top republican opportunity. >> akin has left many wondering if he's caused senate republicans the best chance to overtake the democrats in terms of majority. the republicans need a net gain of just four senate seats if president obama is reelected. three seats if romney wins the race. in terms of presidential fallout, this is another distraction for the ticket. a ticket that already faces an up hit battle winning support of female voters. >> the last thing he needs is this embarrassment from the republican senate candidate in missouri. they don't want to talk about this. they want to talk about other
issues. but this is coming up. there's a ted line. 5:00 p.m. tomorrow. >> it's the cleanest way for him to pull his name off the ballot. the cleanest way for the republican party in missouri to put somebody else on the ballot. will that happen? we'll be watching. it seems the pressure is mounting. but right now he's sticking if i recall. when romney and the senate republican leadership and others, including outside analysts are squeezing him. is. >> >> we'll see at 5:00 tomorrow. that's the deadline. then it will be up to the republican party to find a challenger for claire mccaskill. todd akin and paul ryan cosponsored a bill in congress. now as akin tries to revive the controversy over his remarks, will he see any political ramifications himself?
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tidal wave of political fallout that's resulted. joining me now, the senior political analyst david gergen. you and i have watched these unfold for a long time. is it almost certain, very lickly, that he will step down before the 5:00 p.m. missouri deadline and drop out of the senate race? >> almost certain, wolf. the kind of pressure building up on him is irresistible in politics. they pulled a plug on his money. how can he run anyway? not only the senate seat is in question now, but this is a pivotal state for mitt romney. he's been building up a small league, a six-point lead in missouri. that could easily reverse itself if akin remains on the ticket. he won a tight three-way race out there. he was seen a it has weakest. i think he'll drop. >> i got an e-mail from the tea
party express. they want him to drop out of the race. it's not just romney. it's tea party express saying he would do the wise thing for the nation to drop out of the race. but he is saying repeatedly he's not going to do so. if he wants to hold on, he can hold on. he'll probably bring the republicans to defeat in missouri. >> we've seen in the past. you remember 2010. there were these wild card candidates that self emulated and lost seats that the republicans thought they could pick up. we're replaying that. i don't know mr. akin. i'm sure he's a fine person. but he is a member of congress. i think the pressure that will come from his peers in congress now is going to be intense. and i just don't see how he can get going. until now, paul ryan opposed
abortion including all exceptions for incest and rape, except for the life of the mother. now he agrees with mitt romney that says there should be exceptions to abortion for incest, rape and life of the mother. it revives notions of paul ryan's strong anti-abortion position. >> i think that's right, wolf. i'm glad you raise the point. the difference between rooip and romney are not important. it brings attention to ryan's position on abortion, which is not in the mainstream of the people they want to get to vote for the ticket. the romney position is much more in the mainstream. but nonetheless, i do think to have the focus on ryan is not healthy. this is a day they want to be talking about jobs. they don't want to talk about this. they want the attention back on the economy and how they're going to fix it and how the budget plan, they argue, is
going to bring more growth. >> we'll see if he can withstand the pressure or if he drops out. >> i think your parcomment abou the tea party was really significant. once that goes, there's no big support out there for him. >> yeah, it's quickly deteriorating. david, thanks very much. like so many women, she ignored the symptoms. now the comedian rosie o'donnell has a warning after what happened to her last week. that's coming up nt. and auccessful hollywood film director plunges to his death in an apparent suicide. what investigators know about tony scott's m final moments. you've been busy for a dead man. after you jumped ship in bangkok, i thought i'd lost you. surfing is my life now. but who's going to .... tell the world that priceline has even faster, easier ways to save you money. . . on hotels, flights & cars? you still have it. i'll always have it.
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comedian rosie o'donnell is recovering from a heart attack she suffered from last week. she revealed what happened on a poem on her website. o'donnell points out she misunderstood a lot of her symptoms. what do we know about what happened? >> she says when she felt the symptoms, she didn't call 911, she started googling, which is not what you should do. rosie says on tuesday she was walking through a parking lot and she heard someone screaming out. it was an enormous woman in a car having trouble getting out. so she went to help her, and it sounded like she really exerted herself, and a few hours later, o'donnell says she was in pain. i'm going to read this poem. i had an ache in my chest. both my arms were sore. i became nauseous.
my skin was very clammy. i was very, very hot, and i threw up. she then googled -- i think she had a clue what was going on. she googled the signs of a heart attack for women. she then took an asprin. but she did not call 911 or get herself to the hospital the next day she went to a cardiologist and found one of her arteries was 99% blocked. she had a heart attack and they gave her a stint. >> so that was that. if she would have gone to the hospital right away what would have been the difference? in this way it turned out by luck, by a miracle she was okay. but many people would have died in that day. you can die after having a heart attack, obviously. and there was a wait for possibly a day. the sign for women is different. the most common sign is pain in
the chest, pressure on the chest. women are more likely to feel nauseous and light headed. to feel clammy. and those are all signs that rosie o'donnell is begging women to pay attention to. >> we're happy she's okay right now. close call indeed. elizabeth, thanks very much. stunning revelations that republican congressmen on a trip to israel were scolded after one of them went skinning dipping in the sea of galilee. and the autopsy report is just out on the young man who memphis police say shot himself in the head while handcuffed in a patrol car. will the medical examiner support the police recreation
. there is a new development in a controversial shooting death last month. although travis carter was handcuffed in the backseat of a cruiser, the crime lab says he shot himself. george, what does the autopsy report now say? >> wolf, i want to read this line directly from the report that says for the medical examiner, at the time of the discharge, the muzzle of the gun was placed against the right temporal scalp. the shooting ruled a suicide. and this goes along with what investigators have said that she was somehow able, flexible enough to use the weapon and fire it in this manner. many in the community believe somehow police officers were involved in it. the police officers at the time released two suspects but they kept carter. but still, when you hear from the witnesses, people who saw this happen, they back up what police had to say. take a listen.
>> they killed one. >> what did they the with him? >> i think they put him in the backseat of a police car. then 10 or 15 minutes after that, he heard a loud pop. i was like what is going on. >> you heard a pop? >> it sounded like a gun. >> so where were the police officers when you heard this? >> they were standing on the outside of the car. >> how far away from the car were they? >> they were two from the car. >> so wolf, that's jamie anderson hearing from her. they were way tr the police car when the fatal shot happened. >> we have a banner that says handcuffed man shot himself. that's not what the laboratory report is saying. they're saying that the gun was placed up to hi head. they haven't concluded that he
committed suicide, have they? >> indeed. they are directly calling this suicide. when you look back at the reenactment and sho how a personal can be so flexible as to fire a weapon in that manner, that's what the officers are saying. that's what this report is saying. but many saying. many in the community are skeptical and believe that african-american suspects in jonesboro are treated differently than white suspects. so you hear people in the community skeptical about this report. you can imagine some people may continue to protest. >> is there any explanation why this individual may have wanted to commit suicide? >> no indication at this point. we know that he was being held at the time because of a warrant out of mississippi. so you can ask the question, was it a matter of not wanting to go to jail? no one knows. there's also a question of how he had that weapon. you'll remember that will officers, they searched him twice before putting him if this car. they found a baggy of marijuana. did not find the weapon. this is the weapon that was used, a stolen weapon that he
used apparently here to shoot himself. >> interesting, very fascinating stuff. i'm sure that this is not the end of the story by any means. george, thanks very much. the film director tony scott known for action hits like "top gun" plunged to his death from a bridge in southern california yesterday. authorities today are treating it as a suicide. our entertainment correspondent kareen wynter is with us from los angeles. what are you learning? >> well, wolf, los angeles county coroners say there was in fact a suicide note left behind but the big question is here is why this acclaimed director would want to take his life. >> tony scott spent his career as a blockbuster movie director. now, his death is tragically playing out in dramatic hollywood fashion. scott was seen jumping from the vincent thomas bridge in san ped pedro, california, on sunday afternoon. a 911 call from a passerby alerted authorities in los angeles port police recovered scott's body from the
water afterwards. the los angeles county corner's office is conducting an autopsy. a spokesman says a suicide note was discovered in scott's office and contact information for friends and family was found in his car left parked near the bridge. scott's death sent shock waves through hollywood. film critic roger ebert tweeted the death of tony scott is shocking and saddening. he was an inspired craftsman. >> i feel the need the need for speed. >> the 6-year-old native of england struck box office gold in 1986 as the director of "top gun" starring tom cruise. he followed that with the eddie murphy action movie beverly hills cop 2." >> nothing i can't do with a race car. >> in 1990, scott directed tom cruise once again in "days of thunder." the film's co-star nicole kidman released a statement on scott's death saying "i'm so so sad. i loved tony. he was always so good to me. he will be deeply missed by so
many of us that knew him." it was on the set of "days of thunder" that scott met his wife actress donna wilson with whom had he twin sons. older brother ridley scott, the two joined forces to form their own production company in 1995. a spokesman for the family released a brief statement simply asking for privacy at this time. scott's apparent suicide has raised the question why. the corner's office is aware of reports he may have been dealing with an incurable illness. till its investigation is complete, what motivated him to end his life remains a mystery. he had several on going film and television brojs in the works and leaves a legacy of entertaining moviegoers. and you know, wolf, one of those projects that scott was actually working on right before his death was doing a remake of the 19 0s hit "top gun" starring tom
cruise. tom cruise released a statement today referring to scott as a creative visionary whose mark on film is immeasurable. wolf? >> it certainly was. thks very much. in our next hour, we're tracking the mule wildfires raging out of control out in the west. and target practice on mars. the curiositity rober uses its laser to prepare for future experiments. that's just ahead. great shot. how did the nba become the hottest league on the planet? by building on the cisco intelligent network they're able to serve up live video, and instant replays, creating fans from berlin to beijing. what can we help you build?
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mobile lab's movement. tell us about this laser blasting as it's called. >> it's exactly what it was, target practice see how this cam as they call it worked. at the top of the mast on curiosity is where the laser sits. and you know, it shoots out up to about 30 feet. and i have a little rock here as an example. now, if i were to put just a tiny mark, the size of a pen mark, that's actually bigger than the mark that the laser leaves. but what it does, it shoots out 1,000 watts of power. it vaporizes the tiny part of the rock, the plasma that's emitted an image of that is then taken by a telescope and through that the scientists are able to look at what the rock is composed of, get an idea is it iron, is there carbon in it. the things that they're looking for that would reflect that there were water in that part of mars or perhaps one of the building blocks of life. then if they so choose, they
could take the rover up there and take a better look at it if they wanted to. they dubbed the fame of that rock coronation rock. i guess that's because the first time a laser has been used to zap a rock or anything else for that matter on another world. wolf? >> another world indeed. very, very cool. as you know, y released a new poll that will included questions about the mars rover, life on mars. what did the survey tell us? >> there's a pretty good percentage of us out there are at least space geeks sometimes. 72% of the people said in the survey that they thought that landing the curiosity on mars was a major achievement for nasa. they were also asked if they thought there was life on mars. 62% of the thousand adults that were asked in this survey said no, they didn't think there was life on mars. i think the question was probably a little bit too broad.
because we're certainly not going to see people like us up there waving back, but microbial life there is a possibility in its distant past when it was much more like earth, a possibility microbal life did get started on mars. >> thanks very much, john zarrella. happening now, an uproar and now an apology. can this republican congressman's campai survive what he said about rape? a naked swim in a sacred sea lands another lawmaker in trouble. a historic change at the home of the masters. two famous women are the first to join. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." it was certainly a closely watched race before, but now all
eyes are on missouri congressman todd akin and his senate campaign which may, repeat may be on the verge of imploding. akin is apologizing for a remark about rape and pregnancy that has fellow republicans scrambling to distance themselves from him. but the apology may not be enough to calm a controversy whose ripples are being felt by the romney/ryan campaign, as well. our national political correspondent jim acosta is with the republican ticket in new hampshire right now. jim, how is this controversy playing out out there? >> wolf, after being roundly criticized by every top gop leader in the country, including mitt romney, embattled missouri congressman todd akin is essentially a man without a party tonight. as he tweeted and said on conservative talk radio earlier today, he's not going anywhere, at least not for now. what about in the case of rape? should it be legal or not? >> you know, people always want to try and make that as one of
those things. >> in an interview with a st. louis tv station, missouri congressman todd akin, the gop's candidate in a hotly contested senate race paid an explosive claim when asked whether abortion should be outlawed for rape victims. >> it seems to me first of all, from what i understand from doctors that's really rare. if it's a legitimate rape, the body has ways to shut that down. >> this is not somebody we want speaking for us on the floor of the united states senate. >> so did republicans. massachusetts senator scott brown said the statement was so far out of bounds that he should resign his nomination. >> thank you. >> mitt romney took time out from campaigning in new hampshire to denounce akin's comments, as well. >> his comments about rape were deeply offensive. and i can't defend what he said. i can't defend him. >> but a romney adviser says the gop contender is not calling on akin to drop out.
democrats are now using the controversy to put romney's running mate paul ryan on the defensive. dnc chair woman debbie wasserman-schultz tweeted ryan once supported a bill in congress that said taxpayer funds should only go to abortions for cases of incest, the life of the mother and victims of forcible rape. >> after public outcry, the word forcible was later dropped. listen how he explained his comments when he vowed to stay in the race. >> i was talking about forcible rape and it was absolutely the wrong word. yeah, and the good people of missouri nominated me and i'm not a quitter. >> if its first reaction to akin's remarks, the romney campaign stressed the gop contender would allow for abortion in cases of rape, incest and the mother's life drawing a distinction from ryan's personal views. he would only support an exception when the mother's life is on the line. advisers say it's the romney's position that counts. the abortion issue flared up
just as the gop campaign was touting ann romney as the convention's first speaker. over the weekend they allowed a reporter to observe the couple at a service in new hampshire. this was supposed to be a week to go on offense. >> so what are you going to do to combat the lies, the leftists are telling about you? >> yeah, thank you. it seems that the first victim of an obama campaign is the truth. >> now, as for todd akin, the clock is ticking. he has till tomorrow evening to voluntarily remove his name from the missouri ballot. if he misses that deadline, he will need a court order to do so sometime next month and he'll have to cover the costs of putting the new candidate's name back on that missouri ballot, but he's getting pressure from all sides to drop out of this race. cindy mccain tweeted earlier this afternoon, rape is rape. he also heard the same message from the president of the united states who also used that same
phrase, but as a spokesman for todd akin said to our chris welch earlier this afternoon, akin is not dropping out of this race. for now it appears he is standing firm. >> tea party express issued a statement urging him to drop out, as well. jim acosta, thanks very much. the controversy plays right into the hands of the obama campaign which is trying to paint within republicans as hostile to women and the president himself spoke about the rape remark in a surprise appearance at the white house briefing room where he took questions from reporters. our white house correspondent brianna keilar has got details. tell our viewers what the president is saying about all of this. >> wolf, president obama tried to make this abortion debate relative to his battle to hang onto the presidency. no doubt he's courting the female vote here. he's doing pretty well with women when you compare him to mitt romney but he has lost some ground this cycle. this is an issue that could help him with female voters. >> rape is rape.
and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we're talking about doesn't make sense to the american people. and certainly doesn't make sense to me. >> and with that, president obama effectively elevated the comments of a little known missouri congressman, todd akin and used it to cast the republican party as trying to butt into the women's personal health decisions. >> although these particular comments have -- have led govern romney and other republicans to distance themselves, i thi the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions or qualifying forcible rape versus nonforcible rape, those are broader issues and that is a significant difference in approach between me and the
other party. >> the president was also asked about the tone of the election, specifically commenting on an inaccurate ad made by the main super pac backing had im. >> a short time after that, my wife became ill. >> an add that links mitt romney to the death of a steelworker's wife. >> i don't think that governor romney is somehow responsible for the death of the woman that was portrayed in that ad. >> the ad was made by the super pac run by two former white house aides, a group president obama personally endorsed to raise money for his re-election, but the president said he did not approve the ad and slammed the romney campaign for another spot that is also judged false by fact checkers. >> now in contrast, you've got governor romney creating as a centerpiece of his campaign this notion that we're taking the work requirement out of welfare. which every single person here who's looked at it says is patently false.
>> as the obama campaign continues to call on romney to release more tax returns, the president said the criticism is fair game. >> that's precedent that was set decades ago including by govern romney's father. that is what the american people would rightly expect is a expense that if firkly when we're going to be having a huge debate about how we reform our tax code and how we pay for the government that we need, i think people want to note that you know, everybody's been playing by the same rules, including people who are seeking the highest office in the land. >> president obama was challenged on this issue by reporters including for the fact that his deputy campaign manager raised the possibility that perhaps the way mitt romney has handled his taxes could be a felony. wolf, president obama pushed back on that saying essentially that it wasn't true and he also
said that he's comfortable about the campaign that he's running and that the issues he's talking about are the issues that matter to american voters. >> brianna keiler, thank you. all of this comes exactly one week before the republican national convention in tampa, florida. today the big reveal of the stage where mitt romney will formally aept his party's presidential nomination. we'll be covering all of it live from tampa, starting next monday. monday night 7:00 p.m. eastern. anderson cooper, erin burnett, candy crowley, john king will be with us every night along with our expert political analysts for coverage you won't find anywhere except right here on cnn. indicate baldwin is here right now for great coverage, as well. >> exactly. looking forward to it. you can be sure the romney wishes we were talking about the convention than what's going on right now. instinct else we're watching, a tricky rescue operation in toronto. a crane toppled over pulling
power lines down on to a nearby bus carrying two dozen passengers. power crews worked to ground the wires. everyone was able to leave the scene safely. thankfully, no major injuries reported. and we are following multiple wildfires burning out of control right now in the western u.s. casey wian has the latest for us on that. casey? >> kate, crews throughout the western united states now are fighting 35 large wildfires. it's the first time since 2008 that the national interagency fire center's preparedness scale has moved to level 4 out of 5. in other words, more than 60% of the nation's major wildfire fighting resources are now being deployed. officials tell me the top priority right now is the trinity ridge fire in idaho. it's been burning for two and a half weeks, more than 90,000 acres so far and it's only 5% contained. here in california, the ponder
rosa fire in the northern part of the state has burned 15,000 acres. it nearly doubled in size just last night. it's threatening 3500 homes and 20 commercial buildings. it also is only 5% contained. firefighters are hoping for a break from the weather which is expected to cool in california by tomorrow. now, in washington, there's some relief for the 23,000 acre taylor bridge fire. it's nearly half contained. and full containment is expected by midnight local time tonight. much of the work now is clean-up and damage assessment and so far, crews have found 48 homes destroyed. over the next few days, from washington to montana, more thunderstorms and severe fire weather are expected throughout the northwest. so the danger of existing fires spreading and new ones breaking out still there. >> casey, thank you so much. speaking of weather, bad weather has cleared in the dallas area allowing officials to resume spraying insecticide to fight an
outbreak of the mosquito born west nile virus. it's killed at least ten people in the area and 26 people across the u.s. making this is the worst outbreak of west nile since 2004. the latest victim, a 67-year-old chicago area man who died over the weekend. pioneering female command yen phyllis diller has died. her career started in a san francisco nightclub and went on to include television, broadway. her self-dep pra indicating humor made her a popeye con. she died in her sleep at home with a smile on her face. just seeing pictures brings a smile to your face. >> she was a very funny woman. thanks very much for that. it's the sacred sea, if you will, where the bible says jesus walked on water. now we're learning about a late night romp by united states congressmen, one of whom went skinny dipping there. also at 41 past the hour, the
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and the house republican leadership sat on it. and in fact, we also learned that the fbi investigated to see if any congressmen broke any laws we learned today they decided the answer was no. but it is definitely fueling the frustration with congress and it has made a nightmare day for republicans even worse. it was the end of a hot august day last year in israel and a long dinner with plenty of alcohol when some 20 gop congressmen and a few aides jumped into the sea of galilee. congressman david schweiker was there for the dinner but not the swim. >> there's no question there was a sense of light-heartedness and there were those who were drinking alcohol. >> multiple gop sources tell us the episode first reported by politico turned from slightly weird to completely inappropriate when freshman gop congressman kevin yoder decided to take his clothes off and swim naked. in a statement, congressman yoder tried to expain his skinny dipping escapade saying it was
an a "spontaneous and very brief dive into the sea and regrettably i jumped into the water without a swimsuit. it is my greatest honor to represent the people of kansas in congress and for any embarrassment i've caused for my colleagues and constituents, i apologize." the morning after, house gop majority leader eric cantor on the israel trip but absent from the late night swim held an emergency meeting with the 30 something gop lawmakers on the visit and scolded them. >> i remember a high level of annoysence from some of the leadership. >> the trip organized and paid for by an arm of the american israel lobbying group apac had turned into a potential public relations disaster. according to multiple sources, house republican leaders were bracing for it to go public and debating damage control. not only because of the perception of debauchery in the locally land but because of the timing it it was soon after the debt ceiling debacle and the same day the dow plunged 512 points.
the fact that it came at out a year later may lessen the political damage for yoder, the skinny dipper but maybe not for ben quayle. he was a swimmer and now in a gop face-off later this month with the congressman squooik squik kert who is trying to capitalize. >> in regards tore someone like ben squal and a history of bad decision making. when you tie alcohol and some of the personal history that's there, you start to get a little squeamish what may have happened. >> congressman quayle's campaign hit backing that schweikert is opportunistically promoting the story and that he did nothing inappropriate but rather he swam in the sea for religious reasons since that's where christians believe jesus walked on water. i'm told that is why several of the congressmen decided to do this. one jumped in hand in hand with his 21-year-old daughter, another with his wife. they were planning on doing this when they were even going over there, saying they wanted to have a spiritual experience. the fact that it happened at night, one took their clothes
off made it not so much a spiritual experience but a political embarrassment. >> and the fact that alcohol apparently was used that night, as well. >> right. you know, it's various sources i talked to how much alcohol was consumed. congressman schweikert says he doesn't drink at all. others also said they didn't drink. unclear exactly how much was consumed. it was not paid for by the taxpayers but by an arm of apac. some sources say that the bill was exceptionally high. >> good reporting. >> regardless, it's now overshadowing the entire rip. >> it's hard to believe. you can't make this kind of stuff up. >> thank you so much. this controversy is putting these kinds of congressional trips definitely in the spotlight. who pays for them? what responsibility do lawmakers have when they are on them? that and more coming up at the bottom of the hour. also coming up next, will the fourth time be a charm for diana nyad? we're tracking her latest attempt to swim the florida
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this quick look at some of the stories trending right now on cnn.com. number four, a 62-year-old woman is making good progress in her attempt to swim from cuba to key west, florida. diana no yad has reportedly covered more than a third of the total distance and has been in the water since saturday afternoon. we wish her luck. she's amazing. number three, apple has become
the most valuable publicly owned public company in history. the company's stock hit new highs trading today bringing overall capitalization to $623 billion. number two in paris, customers of mcdonald's can now pay now order and pay pore their meals using smartphones or tablets. part of a growing trend of skipping cash or even credit cards and if successful could spread to other mcdonalds around the world. finally, our final item trending tonight, film director tony scott died in an apparent suicide when he jumped from the bridge, a bridge in san pedro, california. scott was best known for the films "top gun" and "beverly hills cop 2." . >> so sad. >> very, very. >> a lot of questions of why. he had a lot of projects he was work, on. >> a huge, huge stumble by a
republican senate candidate talking about what he called legitimate rape. fellow republicans are condemning his remark. and at 41 past the hour, an elite golf club opens its doors to women for the first time in 80 years. one famous name will be among the first to walk through. ♪ (train horn) vo: wherever our trains go, the economy comes to life. norfolk southern. one line, infinite possibilities. you know what's exciting? graduation. when i look up into my students faces, i see pride. you know, i have done something worthwhile. when i earned my doctorate through university of phoenix, that pride, that was on my face.
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also, lawmakers behaving badly. one of them skinny dipping during a junket to israel. and an excusive boys club opens up to women. two famous females are the first to join augusta national. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." it's certainly the last thing republicans wanted a week out from their convention, a controversy about rape and abortion sparked by a missouri coressman running for the u.s. senate. todd akin ignited a political firestorm as he stated his opposition to abortion in rape cases and used the term and i'm quoting him now, legitimate rape. top republicans including mitt romney have spent the day condemning akin's comment. >> his comments about rape were deeply offensive. and i can't defend what he said. i can't defend him. the thing he should consider is what's in the best interest of the things he believes most
deeply, what will help the country at this critical time. >> congressman akin has repeatedly apologized but is resisting calls for him to end his senate campaign. let's get more now with former republican congressman tom davis of virginia and cnn senior political analyst ron brownstein, editorial director of the "national journal." here's what akin said on the hike huck radio show today. i'll play it for you. >> i don't know that i'm the only person in public office who suffered from foot-and-mouth disease here. and this was a very, very serious error. on the other hand, there are so many good people in missouri who nominated me. and they understood my heart, try to restore the terrible economic condition that our country's been brought to. . >> would you tell congressman
akin like so many other republicans already are apparently that it's over, it's time for him to step down? >> he has two deadlines. till tomorrow and then he can wait till september. if he can't weather the storm at that point, it's going to cost him and his campaign some money. the republicans cannot afford to lose the missouri senate seat. >> against claire mccaskill. >> are you surprised how quickly they seem to be throwing him under the bus. >> romney doesn't want this election to be about social issues. it's got to be about the economy. >> ron, talk about this race in particular. i mean, this is one race that as tom just said, it was crucial, republicans needed to win this if they want a chance at winning the senate. what's going on here? do you think this is really going to impact how this race pans out? >> well, clearly it will affect it. whether it will be enough to tip it if he stays in is the question. we're moving toward a more parliamentary system of elections. fewer people voting for one party for president and one party for senate than an we've
seen since 1960. that's a tough dynamic for say a scott brown that obama is going to win. claire mccaskill is probably the democrat facing the biggest deficit by obama in her state. she has to convince a lot of people to vote for her. this gives her a chance but it's still not guaranteed in a state the president is likely to lose by as much as missouri seems on track to produce. >> one person not calling for akin to step down. >> she wants him to stay in the race. >> this is premature self-combustion. she wanted him as the opponent but wanted to see thing liking this perhaps later in the race. >> president of the united states came into the briefing room today and answered questions. the first question was on this subject. here's what he said. >> i think the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women for their health care decisions or qualifying forcible rape versus nonforcible rape, i think those
are broader issues, and that is a significant difference in approach between.me and the other party. but i don't think that they would agree with the senator from missouri in terms of his statement which was way out there. >> way out there indeed. how worried are you that this blunder by this congressman is going to further expand the president's support among women? >> i don't think it's going to have any effect. we go to the conventions 234e679 week. >> even if he stays in the race? >> if even -- i don't think romney's going to put his arm around akin but he doesn't need to visit missouri to carry missouri. >> this is one of the most recent polls tracking this between support amongst women and men for obama and romney. 50% for obama support from women and romney's hovering at 42. they've always had an uphill battle with the women vote. this seems like an opening for obama. >> this is a rare time i disagree with tom davis. if you looked already this year,
the fight over contraception earlier in the year, rush limbau limbaugh's incendiary comments, all of that allowed obama to maintain a large advantage in the polling among college educated white women. he won 52% of them last time. he's polling at least that high in the all the national and state polls this time. this is one more brick on the load. the other thing happening in the summertime as you know is that obama has seen some movement among working class white women who are very down on him. polling this summer. i think the romney campaign understands they'll have big advantages among white men. the key variable is how much of the '08 support he can maintain among white women for obama. it does make it tougher to cut into those advantages. >> that's why they put this thing down so quickly. they came out with a solid statement rebuking akin on this thing. you can't really associate romney with this. >> the link back to the legislation that paul ryan helped draft, i mean, when as
you were showing before when congressman akin was explaining why he used this language, he said he was reaching for the word forcible. you know, rape which was part of that language on restricting medicaid coverage of rape rape victims even further that paul ryan was associated with. there is a link there. >> unemployment stats come out september 8th. this is going to be history. >> quickly on this congressional delegation, a year ago they were in israel. the sea of galilee. one congressman a republican from kansas goes in naked. got rebuked if you will. the story's only out now thanks to political. you've been on these codels including at the sea of galilee. what did you think? >> terrible optics at this point. this was a private trip, it wasn't financed by taxpayer dollars as you can see, the congressman who is at issue came back, rebuked the thing immediately. walked it back. it's a one-day story but doesn't help congressional approval.
>> how badly does it hurt the republican brand? >> it revert brats on congress once again. >> could their approval rating get any lower. >> you're pretty much down to friends and immediate family at this point. maybe employees. i agree with tom. i think this is a much smaller issue. i think the other question has potentially more reverberations in the same way we saw comments from outside of the campaign by people like rush limbaugh i think did have an effect on the voters, upscale white woman have wered very solid for obama even while other elements of the white community have fallen off. >> to the extent this becomes a social issue campaign and not about the economy, it helps obama in these swing states. >> especially in northern virginia. >> which i novell very well. >> represented that district for a long time. tom davis, thanks very much. ron brownstein, thanks to you, as well. president obama speaking out about controversial attack ads by two newly formed veterans grips. national security policies that
criticize the president over leak regarding the pigs that took out osama bin laden. here's what the president has to say about it. >> i won't take this film too seriously. i gather that one of the producers is a birther who still doesn't think i was born in this country. you've got one who was a candidate, a republican candidate for office. and a proud card carrying member of the tea party. so this is obviously a partisan film. i'd advise that you talk to general mckrafr in charge of our special ops. i think he has a point of view in terms of how deeply i care about what these folks do each and every dale. >> he meant admiral mccraven, head of u.s. special operations forces who did tell me the president of the united states deserves all the credit in the world for giving the order to go out there to abad da bad to
capture or kill bin laden. the president goes on to say this kind of stuff happens and before an election, the president of the united states speaking forcely in this interview today on what this group is alleging against him, the first response directly from the president. she was only the second woman to be the u.s. secretary of state. now condoleezza rice will be one of the first to join the augusta national golf club, dropping itsal 0-year ban on female members. we'll tell you what's going on. you're in "the situation room." ♪ atmix of energies.ve the world needs a broader that's why we're supplying natural gas to generate cleaner electricity... that has around 50% fewer co2 emissions than coal.
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first time in 80 years and one of the first to join is the former secretary of state condoleezza rice. mark mckay is outside augusta right now. what's the reaction to this historic decision, mark? >> well, wolf, among the golfing community it's been very positive on this monday announcing its first two female members. augusta national opening its gates to female members for the first time in its nearly 0 years of existence. a number of golfers have been questioned, and officials including the pga tour commissioner tim finch chum either with reporters questions or such as twitter, it's been very positive. we heard from tiger woods. he issued a statement monday that read in part "i think the decision by the augusta membership is important to golf. the club continues to demonstrate its commitment to impacting the game in positive ways. he continued by saying i would like to congratulate both new members especially my friend condi rice.
reaction among golf fans a bit mixed. many have wondered why it's taken so long. >> what exactly forced them to change their mind? i know the pressure over the years has been intense. >> very much so. you remember a decade ago, wolf, right here on washington road outside the grounds of augusta national, loud protests in 2002 and 2003. led in part by martha burke of the national council of women's organizations, miss burke spoke to cnn earlier today. she said that she congratulated augusta national by making history and didn't take credit for it. but she told cnn it's more about women's equality than it is inclusion into this special club. >> how will this impact the masters next year? >> the tournament itself has continued inside these gates uninhibited through the years, no matter what comes at this club. we don't know a lot that goes on inside the gates of augusta
national. we assume there's somewhere around 300 members. and that membership supposedly costs maybe $10,000 a year. we do know it will impact the golf chairman, billy payne. he won't have to answer those questions in that press conference as to when his club will finally include female members. and we do know that both members will receive their green jackets in october when the club opens its new season. >> it's about time. took 80 years or so but it's about time it happened. thanks very, very much. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in afghanistan as kerns grow over an escalating string of insider attacks on u.s. troops. that's coming up next. plus, it's not your typical white house state dipper. the oldest guest, in fact, only 12 years old. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." [ male announcer ] imagine facing the day
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kate has a check of what's going on over at the white house and around washington. it's always crazy around there. >> there's a lot going on today. first to the white house. president obama made a surprise appearance in the white house briefing room today, but it wasn't just only talk about politics. the president also had some very tough words for the embattled syrian regime warning there's a very specific point in time when he won't hesitate to act. >> we have been very clear to the assad regime but also to other players on the ground that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. that would change my equation. >> syria is sinking deeper and deeper into civil war. at least 122 people were
reportedly killed just today. the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general martin dempsey is in afghanistan for meetings with top nato and afghan officials following a deadly string of attacks that left 23 americans dead. the latest incident just president obama says he's deeply concerned by the so-called insider attacks. he also sed he spoke with general dempsey today. and it's not your typical state dinner. first lady michelle obama hosted the first-ever kids state dinner at the white house today. it was more of a lunch. it was for the winners of the nationwide recipe contest that's a part of her significant "let's move" campaign. >> you came up with dishes that were packed with nutritious, delicious ingredients, dishes that are good for you but more importantly they taste good, too. see. it can happen. healthy and tasty at the same time. >> some of the kids' parents got to attend as well. president obama also dropped by the event. he joked that usually he gets
invited to state dinners but this one he just had to crash. no more party crashers. don't need any more of those. >> they haven't had a lot of state dinners. >> this was a neat one. comments from republican senate candidate about rape and abortion sending ripples through the party and the presidential campaign. let's go to cnn's erin burnett. you're going to be joined by the republican party chairman reince priebus in the next hour. what's going on? >> we're going to get to the heart of the matter. pretty incredible what mr. akin said, using the words "legitimate rape." he's apologized for it, of course. late today, mitt romney commenting on it and many other republicans also saying that perhaps -- actually not perhaps, that they think he should step out of the race. but will the chief of the republican national committee say that? it's highlighted something mitt romney and paul ryan don't want highlighted, paul ryan's personal views on abortion, much
more conservative than mitt romney. we're going to talk about that with the head of the republican national committee. and also talk with a man who has an incredible story. his wife now going to jail for two years for speaking out against vladimir putin. his 4-year-old daughter won't see her mother for those two years. the husband of one of the pussy riot band members is our guest tonight. >> i'm predicting right now what reince priebus will say because the republican senate leadership has said it, romney has said it, that congress akin should spend the next 24 hours reflecting with his family on what this means for himself, for the state, for the country, for the republican party, which is basically throwing him under the bus and telling him by 5:00.m. central time tomorrow, he should be out of this race. that's what i'm predicting reince priebus will say. but i'll be listening as i always do. >> all right, wolf. it looks like something out of a "mission impossible" movie.
a woman walks a line between two trucks barreling down the highway. does she make it? jeanne moos northwest ahead. you know why i sell tools? tools are uncomplicated. nothing complicated about a pair of 10 inch hose clamp pliers. you know what's complicated? shipping. shipping's complicated. not really. with priority mail flat rate boxes from the postal service shipping's easy. if it fits, it ships anywhere in the country for a low flat rate. that's not complicated. no. come on. how about... a handshake. alright. priority mail flat rate boxes. starting at just $5.15. only from the postal service. how did the nba become the hottest league on the planet? by building on the cisco intelligent network they're able to serve up live video, and instant replays, creating fans from berlin to beijing.
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he says he only had one practice throw and prepared mainly by drinking. congratulations. looks like something out of an action movie. but actually it's a real-life stunt pulled off by a woman on a moving nylon rope. here's cnn's jeanne moos. >> reporter: two trucks hurdling down the highway with a woman walking a line between the two barreling toward a tunnel. will she get splattered in what looks like a scene right out of a movie like "mission impossible"? or will she survive like tom cruise? and who is this woman? >> faith is nuts. and only a crazy person would try anything like this. >> reporter: take it from the director, henry alex reuben, who shot this last year on a brand-new hadn't yet opened highway in croatia. >> many countries said no before
croatia. >> reporter: what faith is doing is called slack-lining, like walking a tightrope. >> i've high-lined in harsher winds. but never moving forward before. >> reporter: faith is the women's world record holder in various categories of slack-lining, which is why they got her for this. what's called the ballerina stunt. the object was to get across the line before the trucks got to the tunnel. she fell once. they did three takes. faith was wearing an ankle safety harness. the question is, what is this an ad for? is it for shoes? is it for the camera on her head? nope. it's for trucks. volvo trucks, pretty risky for a brand associated with safety. as one of the precision drivers remarks -- >> too far apart, the rope breaks. too near together, she falls off. >> reporter: the trucks headed
for the tunnel, top speed of about 50 miles per hour. some thought more than the rope was being stretched. the director remrplied -- >> a little bit of hollywood editing made everything seem more exciting. >> reporter: but reuben said she came within seconds of the tunnel entrance. >> she did do it. she did that stunt and it was pretty sick. the crew applauded her afterwards. >> reporter: ye of little faith, have faith in faith dickey. jeanne moos, cnn, new york. >> scary stuff. i don't want you to get any ideas from that. >> i'd like to say i'm that talented, but, no, no, no. faith is nuts, that quote. i like that. >> that's amazing. remember, you can always follow us going on here in the situation on twitter.